Up to 70 Danes offer to pay energy money back to government

Between 40 and 70 residents of Denmark have contacted authorities because they want to voluntarily repay a 6,000-kroner sum paid out to eligible households as relief for high energy prices.

Up to 70 Danes offer to pay energy money back to government
A "heating cheque" of 6,000 kroner for Danes with high energy bills was announced in February 2022 and paid to around 400,000 homes in August, but as many as 70 want to send the money back. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Despite the wishes of the individuals, the money cannot currently be repaid, the Danish Energy Agency (Energistyrelsen) told news wire Ritzau, after newspaper Ekstra Bladet reported that around 40-70 people had contacted the authority to this end.

The one-off 6,000 kroner payouts, agreed by parliament in March, were sent last month to over 400,000 households which meet the criteria set to receive the relief. They were intended to offset skyrocketing energy costs for households heated by gas ahead of winter.

Households with a collective pre-tax income of under 706,000 kroner were eligible for the one-off cash boosts. Additionally, the household should be primarily heated by individual gas heaters, electronic radiators or be located in a district heating area in which the heating is produced by at least 65 percent gas.

But due to inaccuracies in an online database that requires homeowners to self-report information on their home, including gas boilers, many people are believed to have received the cheques in error.

The government said in August it would investigate the issue. The form and results of the investigation are yet to be clarified.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at a briefing earlier this week that she did not regret the government’s decision to spend 2.5 billion kroner on the heating relief.

“We have not regretted providing targeted help but it is obviously regrettable that some problems have occurred in the process,” she said.

Energy Minister Dan Jørgensen said in comments to broadcaster TV2 in August that the government was aware of a risk errors could be made when parliament adopted the law needed to implement the payouts.

But the decision to pay money directly into recipients’ accounts was nevertheless taken “to get the money out there quickly”, he said.

The minister also said that the government would look into setting up a repayment scheme, but no further details of this have yet emerged.

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Nord Stream 2 pipeline has stopped leaking gas under Baltic Sea: spokesman

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is no longer leaking under the Baltic Sea because an equilibrium has been reached between the gas and water pressure, a spokesman told AFP.

Nord Stream 2 pipeline has stopped leaking gas under Baltic Sea: spokesman

“The water pressure has more or less closed the pipeline so that the gas which is inside can’t go out,” Nord Stream 2 spokesman Ulrich Lissek said.

“The conclusion is that there is still gas in the pipeline,” he added.

Asked how much gas was believed to be in the pipeline, Lissek said: “That is the one-million-dollar question.”

Information on the status of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline leak, which was significantly larger, was not immediately available.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which connect Russia to Germany, have been at the centre of geopolitical tensions as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions following Moscow’s
invasion of Ukraine.

While the pipelines are not currently in operation, they both still contained gas before they fell victim to apparent sabotage, producing four leaks.

Nord stream leak site

One of the Nord Stream leak sites photographed by the Swedish Coast Guard. A Danish-Swedish report said on Friday that the leaks were caused by blasts equal to “several hundred kilos of TNT”. Photo: Swedish Coast Guard.
Gas nearly exhausted

A Danish-Swedish report released on Friday concluded the leaks were caused by underwater explosions corresponding to hundreds of kilogrammes of explosives.

“All available information indicates that those explosions are the result of a deliberate act,” the countries said.

The source of the explosions has remained a mystery, however, with both Moscow and Washington denying responsibility.

All the leaks, which were discovered on Monday, are in the Baltic Sea off the Danish island of Bornholm.

Two of the leaks are located in the Swedish exclusive economic zone, and the two others in the Danish one.

Lissek said Nord Stream 2 had informed the Danish energy regulator earlier Saturday that the pipeline had stopped leaking gas.

Danish authorities had said the leaks would continue until the gas in the pipelines is exhausted, which is expected to occur on Sunday.

The Swedish coastguard said late Friday that the leaks on Nord Stream 2 showed signs of weakening due to the exhaustion of the gas contained in the pipes.

The diameter of the sea surface “boiling” caused by the leak in the Swedish exclusive economic zone was now only 20 metres (66 feet) wide, 10 times smaller than at the start.

The leak on Nord Stream 1 had also started to weaken on Friday, with surface diameter down to 600 metres in diameter, down from between 900 and 1,000 metres on Monday.